Committee Report on Department of Home Affairs' and its entities Strategic Plan; Consideration of the Study Tour Destination; Outstanding Minutes and Report

Home Affairs

28 March 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Maunye (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider and approve its report on the Department of Home Affairs’ strategic plans and the strategic plans of its entities. The report was approved with amendments. The Committee adopted and approved outstanding minutes as well as a report about an oversight visit without amendments. The Committee agreed to put in an application to conduct a study tour in the United States of America and the Russian Federation.

Members discussed the Committee’s report on the Department’s strategic plan extensively. They agreed to add recommendations to the report and to then hold a workshop with the Department to further interrogate the plan. They discussed countries to visit on a study tour and spoke of the need to visit countries which had immigration policies and problems that mirrored South Africa’s.

Meeting report

Committee Report on Department of Home Affairs’ Strategic Plan and those of its entities
Mr Eddy Mathonsi, Committee Secretary, took the Committee through the draft document. The document encapsulated points which had been highlighted in the Department of Home Affairs’ strategic plan. The Committee had to approve the report prior to the Department’s budget vote to show that it had considered the strategic plan.

The Committee approved the report with amendments.

Discussion
Adv A Gaum (ANC) said that he had no problems with the substance of the report as it had been compiled. He expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of typos and grammatical errors in the document and implored the Committee staff to rectify that.

The Chairperson concurred with Adv Gaum and instructed the Committee staff to polish the minor errors.  

Ms A Lovemore (DA) said that she had problems with the conclusion of the report. She was not satisfied with the Department’s strategic plan and yet the report suggested that the entire Committee was happy with it. The Committee would need to have a workshop with the Department to interrogate its strategic plan fully. There was no way the Committee could have properly gotten all the answers to its questions over the strategic plan in the time the Department spent with the Committee in the meeting in which the strategic plan had been presented. She highlighted the issue of tariff hikes on ID and passport applications and said that the hikes did not coincide with what the Department had stated it would do. The Department of Home Affairs had fallen prey to the unintended circumstance of National Treasury’s new auditing outcomes/targets and was forced to reform its targets according to them. There were serious problems with the Department’s budget. The Film and Publication Board had too many people in top management positions and further interrogation of that organisation’s strategic plan was needed. She could not say that she was satisfied with the conclusion of the report.

Mr M Mnqasela (DA) agreed that the Committee had not had enough time to interrogate the Department’s strategic plan and further engagement would be necessary in the form of a workshop. He reiterated the points made by Ms Lovemore on the new tariff increases instituted by the Department and said that broader engagement was needed to better understand why this had been instituted. He agreed with Adv Gaum with respect to cleaning up the grammatical and spelling errors in the report.

Ms S Bothman (ANC) said that the report should have a section which had the Committee’s recommendations on the strategic plans. She added that more should be noted in the report on issues which the Committee should include in its report on the strategic plans.

The Chairperson instructed the Committee staff to take note of the proposed changes made by Members and adjust the report accordingly.

Mr J Thibedi (ANC) sought clarity on what the purpose of the report was.

The Chairperson replied that the report was written to show that the Committee had considered the strategic plans which the Department and its entities had presented to it. The Committee had to approve the report prior to the Department’s budget vote which was scheduled to take place after the recess break.

Mr Thibedi said that the Committee should get a chance to sit down with the Department and go through the strategic plan more extensively.

The Chairperson asked Mr Mathonsi whether the Committee would have time to sit down with the Department.

Adv Gaum said that the Committee should include its recommendations in the report. He expressed doubt over the Committee’s powers to approve or disapprove the Department’s strategic plan.

Ms Lovemore reiterated that the Department’s strategic plan was unacceptable in her view. The Committee could not accept the Department’s strategic plan merely because it would hold back a process; there was no improvement in the strategic plan. The Committee expected an improved level of service delivery for the country.

Mr Thibedi said that the Committee could only use the report to highlight issues and then hold the Department accountable in areas where it had failed to reach its targets.

The Chairperson said that rejecting the Department’s strategic plan would not help the Department in doing its job.

Ms Bothman agreed that further recommendations had to be included in the report especially on the issue of ID collection. The Department should provide a report on the Zimbabwean documentation issue along with a report on ports of entry security.

Ms Lovemore reiterated that the Committee should not accept a strategic plan which would lead to a decline in service delivery. It would be helpful to inform the Department that the Committee had rejected their strategic plan and wanted a more comprehensive plan which addressed outstanding issues effectively.

The Chairperson commented that she thought that the Committee had moved past the debate on whether to approve or disapprove the strategic plan and had decided to make recommendations and hold the Department to account.

Ms Bothman said that without an approved strategic plan, the Department would not get a budget.

Mr Thibedi said the Committee was clear on how it needed to proceed. The Committee needed to take an approach which was set to help the Department rather than an adversarial approach. The Committee needed to hold the Department to account when it failed to meet its standards.

Ms H Makhuba (IFP) agreed with Mr Thibedi and Ms Bothman that the Committee should not hold the Department back from doing its work. The report should have a paragraph detailing the Committee’s recommendations to the Department on key issues.

Mr Mnqasela recommended that the Committee hold a workshop with the Department on the strategic plan.

Ms P Maduna-Petersen (ANC) said that the Committee should include recommendations in its report but not reject the Departments strategic plan.

Adv Gaum said that there should be consensus on noting issues in the report as well as recommendations in the report.

The Chairperson agreed that the Committee would adopt the strategic plan and another session would be held with the Department to address issues which were not addressed.

Ms Lovemore wanted to know what would happen with the report going forward.

Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Researcher, explained that the report was merely to show that the Committee had considered the strategic plan of the DHA and its entities and needed to be approved prior to the Department’s budget vote. The report could be amended to suit what Members spoke out on.

Ms Bothman reiterated the need to include key issues in the report.

Mr Mnqasela said that the recommendations section of the report should be clear and unambiguous.

Ms Lovemore asked whether recommendations should be raised with the Department at the workshop scheduled to take place.

Adv Gaum proposed that the Committee include recommendations in the report and then raise any outstanding issues with the Department when they held the workshop.

Mr Thibedi agreed with Adv Gaum.

Mr Mathonsi suggested the Committee meet with the Department on the 1 July 2011 to hold a workshop. 

The Chairperson and the Committee concurred.

Adoption of outstanding Minutes and Report on Oversight visit to Gauteng Refugee Offices
The Committee adopted and approved minutes from meetings held on 25, 26, 27 January 2011 with amendments.

Members also approved the report from an oversight visit conducted from 25-29 July 2010 with amendments.

Consideration of the Study Tour Destination
Mr Salmon presented the Committee with the options for the study tour. The proposed study tour was proposed to be to one of three countries, these were the United States of America, Russia or England. Those countries had been chosen for the possible tour because of their comparative likeness to South Africa concerning immigration issues. The Committee would have to choose which country it thought best suited a visit and apply for the appropriate funding from the Office of the Speaker.

Mr Salmon had presented the Committee with the tour options in the previous week’s meeting. He had attempted to find a developing country that the Committee could conduct the tour in but none of the developing countries he had found matched what the Committee he was looking into. The Committee approved a tour suggestion to visit Russia and the United States of America, pending approval from the Office of the Speaker.

Discussion
Ms Lovemore suggested the Committee visit the United Kingdom as it had the best comparable immigration situation as South Africa.

Adv Gaum proposed that the Committee put in an application to visit both the United States and Russia as they best resembled South Africa’s immigration patterns.

Mr Thibedi said that if the Committee wanted to learn how to improve its policies on immigration then it had to go to a developing country that faced similar challenges as South Africa. He suggested that the Committee also visit a country that had a developed means of addressing immigration.

The Chairperson said that the Members had to decide on that day where the visit would be conducted.

Adv Gaum reiterated his suggestion that the Committee apply to visit Russia and the US.

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the chances of getting enough time and funding to go to both places were slim. She said the Committee should give it a try in any case. The trip should also be brought forward to a time when it would be warmer in those countries.

Mr Mnqasela said that the Committee should look to conduct a tour which had the interests of the country in mind for the Committee. Government should be ready to fully address migration and the Committee had an important role in assisting with that. There should not be a price tag on the importance of conducting the tour considering the benefits it would yield to the country.

The Chairperson concurred with Mr Mnqasela and commented that it would be important to learn how other countries dealt with immigration and refugee affairs as it would capacitate the Committee and further inform its work.

Ms Lovemore said that the Russian situation was completely different from South Africa and she could therefore not understand the need to go to that country. She concurred with going to the US in light of its immigration issues. The Committee should go to places where it could learn best.

Ms Bothman said that she thought the matter had been voted on and concluded. She intimated that Ms Lovemore was opposing for the sake of opposing. Processes had to begin to apply for the tour and discussion could still be entertained in future meetings on the tour. She supported Adv Gaum’s recommendation to visit the US and Russia.

The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed with Adv Gaum’s suggestion. If the entire Committee could go on the tour then that would be done. 
 
The meeting was adjourned.


 

 

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